Irma Olguin Jr. speaks to the press in June, with co-founder Jake Soberal appearing via teleconference from Bakersfield, on the announcement of their Kern County expansion. Photo by Donald A. Promnitz
Written by Donald A. Promnitz
Bitwise Industries founder Irma Olguin Jr. has seen her company grow in a hurry since its opening in 2013, and now it has the necessary funds to take operations beyond Fresno.
At a press conference held at Bitwise’s Downtown Fresno headquarters, Olguin announced that the company was able to secure $27 million in capital investment, one of the largest investments ever raised by a female Latinx founder of a tech company, according to Olguin. With the help of the funding, she also announced that there would be a second campus for Bitwise Industries, which will be going in up in Bakersfield.
“Latinx” is a gender-neutral alternative to the term Latina or Latino.
Jake Soberal, co-founder and CEO of Bitwise Industries, explained the decision via live broadcast from the town where the new site will be located.
“And in Bakersfield, we found a story that was familiar, we found a story that resonated,” Soberal said. “But above all, we found a quality of human being deeply in love with their city that made us want to be a part of the Bakersfield story.”
Olguin and Soberal confirmed that more campuses would eventually be built in other “underdog cities” in the Valley. Olguin explained that as the daughter of a farm-laborer family, she only became successful through a scholarship, recycling her way to earn a Greyhound bus ticket because she didn’t have a car. Upon arriving to the University of Toledo in Ohio, she flipped through the course catalog and stumbled on the building with the shiniest glass.
“And that is how I chose my major. That building — that glass building — I thought to my 17-year-old self, it would be really neat to take classes in a glass building,” Olguin said. “And I believe and Bitwise believes that we can be a lot more deliberate about what we expose young people to and the opportunities that we place in front of them”
Kapor Capital and New Voices Fund are the leading investors on the project. Based out of Amityville, New York, New Voices Fund targets women-of-color entrepreneurs.